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Defining Your Brand: Where To Start & A Few Excellent Guides

Your brand is important. We know this by instinct, by experience. Case studies on the topic are dime a dozen.

The number of books, articles, podcasts and professionals talking about the importance of your brand is endless too.

But knowing it and doing something about it is two very different things. And doing it right is a shot in the dark for most!

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it

Simon Sinek, Start With Why

What’s missing is a clear framework. And then a framework given to you in a way you can actually action. So you can actually get to something resembling the brand the experts swear by.

So how do you craft that elevator pitch that truly captures the essence of your brand, and inspires lifelong fans? How do you create such clarity in your message that people identify with it and actually feel something for it?

There’s two people that start that journey really well for you. Both give tangible questions that if you answer in writing, you’ll get to something useful.

Simon Sinek’s Start With Why and Building A BrandStory by Donald Miller come to mind as some excellent starting points for helping you craft a message behind your brand that people will rave about.

Start With Why

Sinek’s well known talks and books centre on the fundamental concept that “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”. He then makes an excellent connection between this ultimate vision with the practicalities of how and what the company must do to maintain and sustain this vision.

An example he goes back to illustrate this point consistently is Apple. Apple’s why is so clear it doesn’t need to be stated anymore. People know it. The ad campaign “Think Different” started it. Apple’s why is to think differently and challenge the status quo. In doing so, they inspire and facilitate their customers to do the same. Their how is “user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use products”. Their what is they “happen to make great computers”.

What he then emphasises is the what of a company (what they actually produce and how they act), must always exemplify the why. In Apple’s case, each product challenges some status quo. Removing the headphone jack and not shipping products with chargers are some recent examples that the spirit is still alive and well.

So Sinek’s given you a great framework to start with. What’s your why? What’s your how? What’s your what? Define those, say it in that order!

Building A BrandStory

Miller focuses more on the how of the communication of that WHY, through stories. He gives us the tools to tell a story that’s memorable and impactful.

An important point he makes is the character in the story and the story is about your dream customer, NOT you or your business! It needs to speak to your audience, not you. Don’t fall into the trap Jay-Z fell into with Tidal!

Back to Miller and stories, he shows the importance and nuances of crafting a story covering:

  • a character (your customer personified), who runs into
  • a problem or series of problems. They then hit upon 
  • a playbook or solution of sorts (be it a person or object). This solution presents to them 
  • a strategy or path forward. 
  • An event or someone calls your character to action the strategy. Along the way 
  • the perils of failure and 
  • rewards following success are highlighted, culminating in a resolution of some sort.

One example he provides is Luke Skywalker, who encounters the problem of the Empire and the Death Star. He meets a guide in Yoda who provides the Jedi skills which is a solution for him to defeat the Empire. He’s pushed into action by the Empire’s actions to crush the Resistance. The perils are clear if he fails with the galaxy falling under the Empire’s rule, but the rewards are also clear – obtaining freedom for the galaxy.

Take your why and turn it into a compelling story of your customers. This will be the story you communicate over your customers’ interactions with your brand.

And it’s not anecdotal only either. Aside from real life business examples of Tesla, Apple and similar world leading businesses with strong business sustaining brands, both authors have scientific findings to back up what they’re saying. For example, a Stanford study by Gordon Bower and Michal Clark in 1969 found long-term retention of a list of words was 6-7 times higher when put into a story format (93% vs 13%). An excellent support for crafting a story for the brand, which Miller advocates.

Taking the time to distil why a business does what it does is important. And the stories around the telling of that why makes it stick in the minds of your intended customers. You’ll be well on the way to having a brand that’s remembered and supported by long-term fans and customers

I’m Kevin, a geek at heart particularly when it comes to B2B digital marketing.

Small/medium sized businesses like yours are underserved. I realised that very early on watching my dad build his own IT business. It’s what drives me to work on The B2B Playbook with George to help such businesses. We hope our efforts will give the many hardworking business owners out there a clear path to sustainably grow online.

When we’re not recording the podcast in our wardrobes, I’m working at Metigy. The business provides a platform for all SMEs to help with their social media and digital marketing, allowing me to continue my goal of helping small businesses.

The rest of the time, I’m geeking out on tech, the best ways to exercise (soccer, running or tennis), and seriously considering taking up whatever the latest crazy thing Tim Ferriss is doing.

Like George, my former life as a lawyer was defining. A simple and clear framework is crucial for continued success.

The B2B Playbook will hopefully give business owners a leg up with such a simple plan to grow online.

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